The Origins of the Ostrander Family of Ontario, Canada



Today, there is a great deal of genealogical interest in the Ostrander family of Ontario and New York State. One result of this interest is the Ostrander Family Association (OFA) which has sustained itself for ten years and continues to grow. The origanization has complied several important publications, which has formed the basis for knowledge on the Ostrander family in the United States and Canada. The OFA has provided most of the framework which these notes are constructed. With a large body of church records dating back to the 17th century and numerous county records in New York; most Ostranders can trace their families back to the original 17th century emigrant with great accuracy.

Other than the Ostrander Family Association's more recent publications, there are several earlier Ostrander genealogical works. Probably the oldest genealogy was published in 1902 by Ogden H. Ostrander (born 1837) and titled, The Ostrander Family in America: descendants of Pieter Ostrander 1660-1902. This work has been filmed by the Mormon Church and is available through the LDS Family Library System. Genealogist, Nathaniel Jacob Ostrander (1843-1917), also contributed to the early body of family history and is toted as the Guru of Ostrander genealogy. His work is not published, but his vast collection of notes is in an archive and has been instrumental in developing many of the family lines. More recently, Kenneth W. Totten's work on the Cohoe family contains Ostrander family history, focusing on the Canadian lines, their connection to the Cohoes, and their settlement on the Niagara Peninsula. Another Canadian work is by Elaine Moffatt Allison of Edmonton, Alberta, who published a work on the “Descendants of Andrew and Lydia Ostrander”. The Ostrander Family Association has publishes an excellent newsletter, "De Bonte Koe", starting in 1983; this work has also been filmed by the Mormons. Another important addition to the study of this family’s history is the work of Isabel Bradley Burrus, which is published in the 1985 issues of “De Bonte Cow” and starts with Pieter Pieterzen of Hurley. The OFA Publications and Totten's work have been reviewed by me and found to be relatively well documented; however, the other works mentioned above have been seen by me and their value and credibility is unknown.


According to the Ostrnder Association's publication of the Ostrander Family Vital Records, the original emigrant to America was a Dutch Adelborst or Army Cadet named Pieter Pieterzen of Amsterdam who arrived in Nieuw Amsterdam in 1660 on the ship "De Bonte Koe" (the spotted cow). With him, arrived his wife Tryntje [Catherine], his son Pieter and two daughters; Tryntje, the younger and Geestje. The commander of De Bonte Koe, Capt. Pieter Lucansz kept a detailed account book recording the fares of his passengers and other personal information, which is our mainl source for early information on Pieter Pieterzen. Pieter’s title of Adelborst is said to denote, "a gentleman volunteer in the Army” [ref: OFA]. This military position was common among younger son, who emigrated in search of their own fortune; being barred from inheriting his father's estate due to the laws of primogeniture. The Ostrander Associations does not indicate that anything is known of the first emigrant's parentage; however, the patronymic "Pieterzen", indicates that he is the son of another Pieter and his origin from Amsterdam may provide clues to his parentage. The use of the name “Pieter” in the American family shows that most first born sons were given this name, for at least three generations. Capt. Pieter Lucansz's account book further records that Pieter’s children were of 8, 4, and 2; providing us with estimates for their birth years. New York records indicate that these children survive to adulthood and are identified by church records as, Pieter the younger, Tryntje who marries Hendrik Albertse Ploeg and Geestje who marries Jan Pier. Genealogists appear to list Pieter as the eldest child, Tryntje as the middle child and Geestje as the youngest; however, the basis of this conclusion is unclear, since Capt. Pieter Lucansz does not indicate the sex of each child only their ages. There is no proof that one of these three adults were not children born after the arrival of Pieter and that the earlier children did not survive to adulthood.

There are no family traditions or New York records, which provide any clues to the original emigrants' parentage or any detail information of their lives in the Netherlands, beyond residency in Amsterdam. Pieter's patronymic surname “Pieterzen” indicates that his father's name was also Pieter. In 1993, Chester B. Ostrander initiated a preliminary search of Dutch records hiring Dr. J. A. J. Krijnen of Leiden. Dr. Krijnen's search in the Amsterdam Municipal Archives was successful in locating the marriage banns of Pieter Pietersz and his wife Trijntje Van De Lande, which were issued on the 26th of October 1652. Also located was the date of birth, probably a church record, for their son Pieter on the 11th of May 1653, the godfather was listed as Jan van de Lande. I have not seen the proof for any of this material, only a condensed conclusion of his research published in "De Bonte Koe", Volume 11, Number 1 (1994). The marriage banns and birth record do indicate that Trijntje was pregnant before her marriage, which was common for the times and for Dutch culture. Northern European traditions placed a greater value on the fertility of a potential wife above her virginity.

Landing on Manhttan Island about June in 1660, Pieter and his family moved north into the Hudson Valley settling in the Dutch hamlet of Esopus, now known as Kingston in modern day Ulster County. The settlement consisted of about 70 families [ref: Ostrander Assoc., "Ostrander"]. In a biographical sketch of William B. Ostrander of Ulster County, family oral traditions record, "...the parents [Pieter & Tryntje] fell victims to the barbarity of the Indians during the warfare between that race and the Dutch..." [ref: Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, NY (c1879), pg. 1259-61]. The Ostrander Family Association notes in their literature that

"a secondary source states that tradition says the family fell victim to Indians, but documentary evidence is lacking and the tradition was not widely handed down within the family."; however, "in June of 1663 [Native Americans] attacked ...and this time penetrated the stockade. Twelve homes went up in flames, twenty one Dutch were killed and forty five, mostly women and children were taken captive. Nieuw Dorp [now Hurley], a new settlement three miles to the west, was entirely destroyed."

Hurley/Nieuw Dorp is an area that Pieter, the younger is known to have lived and is not far from Kingston, which makes a story of massacre, possible. New York land records for Pieter, the emigrant have not been located. It is possible that the vast records of the Dutch West Indian Company may provide details of the emigrant profession and landholdings. These records are being translated and indexed by Dr. Charles Gehring, who has completed work on about one-third of the 12,000 pages of these records Taking the place of land records, the marriage record of Pieter Pieterzen, the younger, to Rebecca Traphagen place both families in Westquansengh in 1679. The Ostrander family is well recorded at Kingston's Old Dutch Church. Records indicate that the emigrant, Pieter Pieterzen, the elder had only one son and from this son descend all families of the Hudson Valley that carry the name Ostrander. The children of Pieter & Tyntje (Van de Lande) Pietresz, the original emigrants are:


Pieter, the younger married Rebeccka Traphagen, the daughter of a neighboring family in the farming community of Westquansengh, Willem and Joostje (Van Nooltruyck) Traphagen. Little research has been initiated concerning Pieter and Rebeccak; however they appear to have lived their lives in Hurley, a rural community just West of Kingston. The earliest land record for Pieter, the younger dates from the 10th of March 1699, when Pieter and his wife Rebeccca Traphagen purchase two acres at Hurley from Anthony Crispell [re: "De Bonte Koe", Volume 10, Num 2, pg. 3]. The earliest record for Pieter is his signature on a 1680 petition for a minister who could preach in both English and Dutch to be assigned to Kingston Reform. In 1714, Pieter is listed as one of the 40 or so freeholders in Ulster County with land assessed at £85 sterling. On the 29th December 1739, Pieter gives his son, Hendrick power-of-attorney in order to sell land to Abraham Ten Eyck. Pieter, the younger does not leave a will, Bible records, or a tombstone to identify the date of his death. Researchers for the Ostrander Family Association place his death between the 29th of December 1739, when he assigns power-of-attorney to his son Hendrick and the 28th of January 1740. Pieter is referred to as "deceased" in a court document concerning the establishment of a common road through Hurley on the 19th of April 1742. In this record, Pieter Ostrander's lot is located next to the lot of Corneya van Etten ,widow of Jan Van Etten. Other neighbors are Lambert Brink, Hendrick Konstable and Egbert Konstable.


Descendants from Pieter and Rachel (Dingman) Ostrander are numerous. Since this Pieter is part of the first generation to consistently use the surname “Oostrander”, rather than a patronymic; he will be referred to as Pieter Oostrander in these notes. The Canadian branch of the Ostrander family and the Ostrander line with is the focus of the website descends from Pieter Oostrander. There is no surviving baptism record for Pieter, but Ostrander family history places his birth about 1680. Pieter Ostrander married Rachel the daughter of Adam Dingman of Kinderhook, Dutchess County, New York. Pieter Ostrander eventually removed to and settled in Albany, New York. Between the record of the Dutch Reform Church in Kingston and Albany the baptisms of his eleven children. The children of Pieter and Rachel (Dingman) Ostrander are:


The patriarch of the Ostrander families in Ontario, Canada is New Yorker Dutch farmer Ysaak Ostrander of Albany. Ysaak is the son of Pieter and Rachel (Dingmans) Ostrander. The family of his son John [Johannes] Ostrander is probably the best documented of the Ontario Ostrander families and is the focus of the website. Land records in Albany have not been systematically searched for information on Ysaak. It is said he moved to the Niagara Peninsula after the American Revolution in the late 1780s. Research provided by Violet Ellis of Durham, Ontario, Canada indicates that Ysaak was a loyalists. She writes that Ysaak, "...was a farmer in Helderberg section of Albany County, NY There are traces of him being at Schoarie ... and around Norman Kill Creek, NY. In the years 1777-1781 we find Isaac living around Schoarie. He later joined the British at Auchguza. His lands were confiscated and between 1780 and 1785 he emigrated to the Niagara District in Ontario. [Ysaak] first settled at Queenstown, Ontario and since that time we have been unable to trace Isaac and Elizabeth, although we have traced their children." [re: 1994; letter]. Though Mrs. Ellis does not specifically quote her sources for placing him in these various locations, she does quote two important records taken from the Minutes of the Albany County Board;

"Information having been exhibited to this board from which they are of the opinion that Isaac Ostrander of the Helleberg [now Altamont] is a dangerous person and disaffected, and that by his conversation he endeavors daily to injure the cause [American] and he having been cited to appear before us this day. Resolve that he be confined and that a Mittimus be made out for him"

"Resolved that Isaac Ostrander be liberated from his confinement on entering into a recognizance for his good behavior doing his duty and appearing before any three of the Commissioners for Conspiracies wen thereunto required during the Continuance of the present war with Great Britain. Isaac Ostrander of the Helleberg, Farmer fined 100 pounds. New York Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies."

[re: Albany Minutes; VLLL 1778-1781].

These two records have been attributed to the same man who emigrated to Canada. With active participation against the Revolutionaries, settlement in Canada would have been a logical move for Ysaak. The actions which lead to his arrest is not indicated in the court records, but evidence of the event suggest that perhaps more might be uncovered with a close examination of Albany records. Ross McCurdy notes in his work that Ysaak settled near Fonthill a village in Thorold Township, Welland County, Ontario; however, Mrs. Ellis indicates that there is only evidence for the settlement of his sons there. Ysaak's children spread out settling in Norfolk, Elgin and Oxford Counties. Most appear to be farmers and many were active in local government.


Ysaak is the tenth of eleven children of Pieter and Rachel (Dingmans) Ostrander. He was born probably in Hurley and baptized in nearby Kingston at the Dutch Church on the 30th of May 1725. His godparents are his paternal uncle and aunt Arend and Geertruy (Maasen Van Bloemendaal) Oostrander. Ysaak and his family later relocated to Albany. In Albany, Ysaak married Elizabeth Mackansch on the 30th of September of 1757. Elizabeth's maiden name is found with many spellings, including McKans and Meekans. Her baptism record identifies her parents as Andries & Hagar (Pyckart) Mackansch. Her family appeared to also be Dutch, since they attend the Dutch reform church; however, the odd name and the appearance of the name "Patrick" among their children suggest possible Irish ethnicity. Little has been researched as to Ysaak's life in Albany, his status, occupation or wealth. Ysaak resided in Albany between 1758 and 1779, when his children were baptized at the Reform Dutch Church. Deeds indicate the acquisition of land along the Norman Kill. A deed for 20 acres on the west side of the Hudson river 2 miles south of Norman Kill, part of William Venter's farm, was purchased from Stephen Van Rensselaer on the 26th of March 1768 [re: DB 10, pg. 151]. In 1775, Ysaak sold to Alexander Commins and Andrew Comyins land described as 2 miles south of Norman Kill [re: DB 10, pg. 55]. Ysaak sided with the British during the American Revolution and fled to Ontario, Canada as mentioned earlier in these notes. Many of Ysaak's children are buried at the Old Eden Cemetery in Norfolk, but there appears to be no tombstones for either Ysaak or his wife Elizabeth. Ysaak and Elizabeth (Mackansch) Ostrander have the following children:


Ysaak Ostrander's son John is the grandfather of Henrietta Ostrander Buckberrough, whose family is one of the focuses of this website. John is identified as the third son of Ysaak & Elizabeth (Mackansh) Van Oostrander by Kenneth Totten in "Andrew Cohoe and his Descendants", and by Ross McCurdy's "Ostrander". This appears to be well established, but by what records is not yet known. Ysaak and his family is included in Jonathan Pearson's The First Settlers of Albany County, NY, published in 1872. The publications of the Ostrander Family Association, also recognize John Ostrander of Ontario, as Johannes, son of Ysaak and grandson of Pieter and Rachel (Dingmans). Johannes was baptized in the Albany Reform Dutch Church on the 06th of October 1765, the record also notes his date of birth as the 05th of September of 1765 [re: Dahl & Ostrander, Ostrander Family Vital Records]. His godparents are Johannes and Wyntje Redly. John probably spent his early adulthood pioneering Ontario with his father and siblings. John is part of the first generation of this family to marry into non-Dutch families. About 1793, John marries in Ontario to Christiana Cohoe, daughter of Ambrose & Deborah (Heacock) Cohoe; a pioneer family of Pennsylvania Quaker origins. John is found in land records to have owned a farm known as "Short Hills" near Chippewa in Welland County; the family lived here until about 1816 when they relocated to Norfolk County, near present day town of Tillsonburg [re: McCurdy,R.W.; Ostrander (1993), pg. 1]. It is said that George Tillson, an early pioneer, who established an ironworks in the area at Dereham's Forge, originally boarded with John and Christiana Ostrander [re: ibid.]. John and Christiana are both buried in the Ridge Cemetery near Eden, Lot 23, Concession 8 of Bayham Township in Elgin County. According to John's tombstone, he died on the 04th of September 1851, aged 87 years, 11 months [re: ibid.]. Christiana's headstone records that she died the 16th of June 1857, aged 81 years, 10 months and 24 days [re: ibid.]. Christiana is found on the 1851/2 Census of Oxford County, Norwich township in the household of the Quakers Andrew and Lydia Cohoe; her age, place of birth and religious affiliation are recorded as unknown, indicating that she was probably extremely feeble and that this family, probably her nephew, knew little about her. Based on Ross McCurdy's work, the children of John and Christiana (Cohoe) Ostrander are:


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